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UpCircle Beauty review: upcycled trash or treasure?

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UpCircle Beauty review: upcycled trash or treasure?

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UpCircle Beauty Review

Have you ever stopped to think about the fate of all the leftover waste from different industries…what becomes of the fading flower petals from wedding venues, the stones from our favourite chilli garlic olives or the used coffee grounds from the countless cafes scattered throughout the country?

Well, some of them end up in UpCircle’s skincare and beauty products! What’s more, in addition to upcycling waste byproducts, UpCircle are also vegan, cruelty-free, and zero waste!

But, does this brand truly live up to its eco-friendly promise? Are their products effective? And, most importantly, are they worth the investment?

In this UpCircle Beauty review, I will take a closer look at their products and answer these questions and more. So, keep reading to discover if UpCircle’s skincare range is the eco-friendly solution you’ve been looking for or just another hyped-up gimmick.

Summary

4/5

UpCircle Beauty products are effective and the brand’s ethos is commendable. The return and refill scheme is a great initiative to reduce waste. The only downside is that their products are quite pricey, but the refill option makes it more cost-effective in the long run.

I’m also always wary of beauty industry promises about ‘anti-ageing’ and ‘acne-attacker’ since I believe they promote certain beauty standards. But, overall, UpCircle Beauty is a brand worth trying if you’re looking for sustainable and effective skincare products.

Pros

Cons

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In a circular economy, waste products are not seen as rubbish, but as valuable resources that can be given a second chance at life. It’s all about finding creative ways to use resources again and again, so nothing goes to waste.

UpCircle prides itself on its vegan and cruelty-free values. They believe in using natural and upcycled plant-based ingredients that are not only good for the skin but also good for the planet. They do not use any animal-derived ingredients in their formulations and also do not test on animals, making them a cruelty-free brand.

UpCircle are committed to using leftover natural ingredients to form their products – up until now (May 2023), they’ve given more than 450 tonnes of “waste” a new lease of life!

In addition to upcycling waste, UpCircle uses eco-friendly and sustainable materials in their packaging, such as glass jars and recycled paper. They also encourage customers to join their refill scheme, where it’s possible to send back empty jars to be refilled with product, reducing waste and the need for new packaging.

An ethos that goes Beyond skin deep

With a strong commitment to both skin health and environmental responsibility, UpCircle has created a range of products using rescued and repurposed natural ingredients, such as coffee grounds and fruit stones, that would otherwise go to waste.

As someone who has worked for a food waste charity, I’ve seen firsthand the number of ingredients that are wasted. Therefore, I commend UpCircle for coming up with innovative ways to make the most out of discarded materials.

Their ethos is commendable but I wanted to find out if their products were any good!

Coco is walking through the wild flowers to sniff the UpCircle beauty products that are laid out on the floor. There's a tube of hand cream, a pump bottle of hand and body lotion, a bottle of caffeinated face serum and a jar of face moisturiser

Products tried and tested

UpCircle face serum

4.8/5
Upcircle face serum with a green sofa in the background

My first trial of UpCircle started with their face serum. It’s their highest-rated product and it’s won plenty of awards, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Plus, I’m a big fan of coffee (especially when it’s blended with nootropics!) and a regular serum/face oil user.

My first thought was that it actually smelt like coffee but not too overpowering; a bit strange for a face serum but I’m certainly not averse to it!

The serum quickly absorbed into my skin, thanks to the non-comedogenic oils. And my face felt hydrated throughout the day, apparently the caffeine helps to keep skin fresh and rejuvenated!

It also helped to control my extremely static hair without making it greasy (I usually apply the serum to my face first and then use the residue on the ends of my hair).

The UpCircle face serum is part of their refill scheme and you can order a second bottle (to use when you send off your first for a refill) with just an aluminium cap to avoid receiving two plastic droppers.

Thumbs up from me!

UpCircle face moisturiser

3.5/5
A left hand is gripping onto a jar of UpCircle face moisturiser with vitamin E. There are flowers and grass in the background

UpCircle’s Face Moisturiser with Vitamin E is made with powdered argan shells, a by-product of the argan oil industry. This ingredient is packed full of antioxidants and vitamin E. 

Unfortunately, I found that, although the cream felt heavy, it wasn’t that effective. I get quite dry skin during the winter though so perhaps I need to try their Night Cream for an extra boost of hydration!

I also wasn’t getting the citrusy blood orange smell that many of the others talk about in their UpCircle reviews.

It still felt nice and silky on the skin though!

UpCircle SPF

4.5/5
UpCircle SPF factor 25

I’d been searching high and low for a while for the best vegan sunscreen when UpCircle sent me a sample of their new SPF 25 mineral sunscreen.

I was instantly converted and bought myself a jar of it to take with me to Montenegro last summer. My friends and I tried it out on varying skin types and tattoos and it worked wonders.

UpCircle’s SPF easily absorbed into the skin, didn’t leave any greasy white residue and protected us all from burning – great stuff!

A little went a long way but I wish they did bigger jars/bottles of this (and for less money).

UpCircle hand and body lotion

4/5
A hand holding a bottle of UpCircle's hand and body lotion. There are wildflowers and long luscious green grass in the background

I love a multi-functional product, which is why I initially opted for UpCircle’s hand and body lotion rather than buying the body cream and hand cream separately. But I soon realised that I would have to buy the hand cream as well; the lotion worked well enough for my body but my hands definitely needed something a little stronger (the weightlifting probably doesn’t help with that).

I really liked the pump bottle and the fact that you can order a bottle with an aluminium cap if you already own a pump.

The lotion is light and has a faint citrusy smell, although this seems to vary batch by batch (I guess this is due to the upcycled ingredients).

UpCircle natural body cream

3.5/5

Made from shea butter, linseed, olive oil and date seeds, none of the ingredients stands out as being unusual but I just couldn’t get used to the smell of this cream. For me, it smelt a bit odd. 

Having said that, the body cream itself worked nicely; it quickly absorbed into the skin and made it feel really soft.

Like many of UpCircle’s other products, it’s also available on the refill scheme.

UpCircle hand cream

4/5
A hand holding a tube of hand cream by UpCircle Beauty. The tube has a metal twister on the top to help squeeze out every last drop of cream. In the background you can see wild flowers and long grass.

The UpCircle hand cream with hibiscus flowers was much better at moisturising my dried-up excuses for hands 😂

It takes a few seconds but then it absorbs well and my skin feels silky smooth. As a writer, I really appreciate that it doesn’t leave any greasy residue on my keyboard.

The cream has an unusual but pleasant scent; I find myself sniffing my hands a lot after using it.

It’s a shame you can’t get this stuff in a refillable bottle like the rest of UpCircle’s skincare products but I suppose the aluminium tube is compact enough to carry around in hand luggage and easily recyclable too!

Sustainable Packaging: is glass better for the planet?

Sustainable packaging is a complex issue and glass packaging has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to its environmental impact.

On the positive side, glass is highly recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without losing its quality. It is also non-toxic and doesn’t leach harmful chemicals into products.

On the other hand, glass is heavier and bulkier than other packaging materials, which increases transportation emissions. The production of glass also requires a significant amount of energy and resources.

This last issue is mitigated when you reuse the packaging, which UpCircle encourages you to do with their return and refill service. The glass packaging produced by the brand is also pretty thick and smash resistant, so I expect the bottles and jars to last a lot longer than some of my aluminium refill products. 

My thoughts on the refill scheme

UpCircle Beauty’s refill scheme allows customers to refill their empty product containers, actively encouraging a circular economy and minimising the need for single-use packaging.

This initiative not only reduces plastic waste but also helps conserve resources and energy required for manufacturing new containers. It aligns with UpCircle Beauty’s commitment to sustainability and provides an accessible and convenient way for customers to participate in their environmental efforts.

The only thing I would say is that the prices still seem to be quite high for the majority of the UpCircle Beauty products and only a few quid cheaper than simply buying a new jar or bottle. The pricing structure may not fully align with the cost-saving expectations of all consumers.

Regardless, it’s commendable that UpCircle Beauty provides this option and I’d love to see more brands offering a refill scheme.

Beauty products in the long grass

Embracing diversity

I’m wary of brands that promote any type of beauty ideal since I believe that the pressures faced by older women to use anti-ageing products can lead to poor body image and perpetuates a culture of unattainable perfection.

I’d like to see UpCircle shift its rhetoric and take more social responsibility by changing the language used to promote some of its skincare products. I feel like they could do further work to embrace the diverse beauty of all ages and skin types.

Nevertheless, if you’re seeking skincare products that are environmentally conscious and deliver results, UpCircle Beauty is definitely a brand worth exploring.

The Vegan Sisters' verdict

UpCircle Beauty products work wonders for your skin, and their commitment to the planet is pretty awesome. Their return and refill scheme? Total game-changer for waste reduction.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the price tag. It’s true that UpCircle Beauty can be a bit steep for some wallets. The refill option saves us a few bob but, let’s be honest, it’s not going to help us save for that house deposit. Nevertheless, buying from UpCircle is a small act of rebellion against the throwaway culture, a pledge to Mother Earth that we’re in it for the long haul. So whilst it may not be the cheapest option upfront, it’s an investment in a more sustainable future.

Oh, and those beauty industry buzzwords like ‘anti-ageing’ and ‘acne-attacker’? I’m a bit sceptical too; I hope to see them develop a more inclusive vocabulary as they learn and grow.

In any case, UpCircle Beauty’s sustainability efforts are still worth cheering for. And their skincare range is pretty darn effective! They’re also growing incredibly quickly and more products are added to their range all the time; I’m looking forward to trying the Shampoo Crème from their new haircare range, for example.

So, if you’re ready to embark on a skincare adventure that’s kind to your skin and the planet, I’d totally recommend giving UpCircle Beauty a go!

UpCircle Beauty review

Effectiveness
4.2/5
Scent and texture
3.8/5
Eco-friendliness
4.7/5
Price
3/5
Range of products
4.8/5
Ingredients
4.9/5
Overall
4.3/5

UpCircle Beauty discount code

Use our exclusive code for 15% off:

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Browse the full UpCircle range

Alice

Alice

Nomadic writer, scientist, and amateur mycologist working hard to build a global online vegan community | I write stuff for a living. Mainly about vegan things, science, fungi, and travel. Curious? Head over to Alice's Cerebrum to learn more.

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